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By FRANK DESORBO
Our lives have changed these days. We have kept busy over the last four months doing things differently to occupy our time and minds. During this period, I was comforted by my memories of trains and the West Albany Shops. I always will remember my walks over the Watervliet West Albany Bridge. The experience was one of tranquility and reverence both to the power of trains and the power of prayer.
During the time of the medical pandemic, I also found comfort in driving to the Voorheesville-to-Albany Rail Trail gazebo in Voorheesville. There is as small parking lot there. You could hear the train off in the distance and then the crossing lights and arms come down to halt vehicle traffic. Sometimes I would sit in the car and count the 125-145 freight cars. Other times I would stand some 20 feet away from the tracks and feel the power and earth shake. Sometimes I would walk the tracks and just reflect on the power and history of the railroads. The old wooden rails held together with a spike had a million stories of the people who built them. I remember how we would place a penny on the track hoping to find it all squashed and stretched out.
The train set at Christmas was always a well-respected toy. Those same toys are hobbies to many adults today. The size of the model trains always brought smiles. My memories of trains in our history are refreshing and rewarding to me. The cross-country efforts of the 1800s that ended the cattle drives to today’s blessing that the freight trains were not stopped by the virus all roll around in my head. The train industry employed so many people, and we should thank God that it still exists today. Our travel methods are under scrutiny today, and seeing those passenger trains under the West Albany Bridge is a nice memory and maybe train life could emerge big once more.
Through the relaxation of train watching, my mind strays to serious moments of spirituality and soul searching. Living in this complex world today, we hear of prayer in times of need and pestilence. Over the years, I learned to have a very short daily prayer that guides me: “If you need God’s help, ask him; if you don’t, then thank him.” I use the very short prayer to put things in perspective and be thankful for living in a country where I appreciate the values it stands for. As the years go by, my life has become more gentle, practical and simple, and yet the world has become more complex. An easy prayer among today’s problems helps with the coping and understanding. During these troubled times, you hear more phases like, “Oh my God,” “God bless you,” or “Our prayers are with you.” A military phase is “there are no atheists in a foxhole.” One thing we all should do is “count our blessings.”
These days, with a worldwide medical crisis and the domestic chaos and unrest, our life has taken on a call for calm and reflection. We have nothing to lose by having a power day of prayer and watching trains.
The author is a Capital District resident and freelance writer and guest speaker. Contact him at fomservice.com